Welcome to the second “Focus On…” article for the Fashion Fraction here at Project: Lixx!
As previously mentioned on the past few FF articles, today we’re going to be focusing on my favourite fashion genre: Visual Kei!
Now, before people get their panties in a twist, Visual Kei can be perceived as both a fashion and music genre. This is dependent on a person’s interpretation. That is the true beauty of Visual Kei!
The basic, easy-to-Google definition of Visual Kei as a whole is “a Japanese music movement and subculture that has been popular since the 1980’s. The artists wear makeup, have elaborate hairstyles and costumes, usually coupled with androgynous aesthetics.” (according to the Visual Kei Wikipedia entry). As it is with every large generic genre, there are many subgenres that branch off with a basis in the large idea but a compilation of other ideas that make it what it is.
The subgenres of Visual Kei that we will be talking about today are Kote Kei, Angura Kei (eroguro/chikashitsu), Tanbi Kei, Nagoya Kei, and Neo-Visual/Soft Visual.
NOTE: Something you’re going to notice is some mentioning of sub-subgenres as well as many bands crossing over into other subgenres. Much like with the lolita “Focus On…”, many criss-cross and work off of one another; some are also inspired and transformed into something entirely new. Please take all subgenres lightly and absolutely not solid “must follow” criteria.
Kote Kei: Original form of Visual Kei; the classic look that exemplifies the basic description of Visual Kei- dramatic hair and clothing with an emphasis on “light and dark” (portraying a darker side first before moving to the lighter). Many describe the music associated with it as being “dark and intense”. Bands that are notably Kote Kei are Luna Sea, Phantasmagoria, D etc
Angura Kei: This is a huge subgenre that one of my favourite blogs lumped all together since the differences between them all are thin. The list of all the individual subgenres are eroguro kei, shouwa kayou kei, and shironuri kei. Angura itself literally translates to “underground” (while “shikashitsu” means “secret room; room that cannot be entered” and “misshitsu” means “cellar; basement”- so most just lump it all under “angura”) and pays homage to the traditional culture of Japan- meaning dressing in kimono, yukata, etc. There have been times where specific members of bands have participated in this style once or twice but a full band I know of who would most definitely fall under this category is Kiryu.
Shouwa Kayou Kei refers to the type of music bands make- mainly being depressing ballads inspired by the Shouwa Era.
Eroguro, as mentioned in the Lolita “Focus On…”, is erotic and grotesque aesthetics; Shironuri is “white face” and describes the makeup style used. More or less an aesthetic used by many Angura Kei bands.
More bands that are notable in Angura Kei are cali=gari, Dir en Grey (early years),Plastic Tree, Inugami Circus Dan etc.
|Versailles -Philharmonic Quintet|
under the symphonic metal category; being very majestic and moving with a composition similar to grand movements and orchestra backing along with your typical metal instrumentation. Bands that fall under tanbi kei include Malice Mizer, Versailles -Philharmonic Quintet- etc.
There are also many solo or duo acts that fall under this classification such as Kaya and Rose Noire.
Nagoya Kei: At first, some blogs read that this is specifically related to bands that come from the Nagoya area. Other blogs state that it isn’t entirely the case- that bands not from Nagoya can also be classified as “Nagoya Kei”. A description for bands under this classification tend to be heavily influenced by western punk bands. Their look is toned down and some claim this is to focus more on the music composition – though from my personal view, I don’t feel like these bands “outshine” the rest of the bands in terms of musicality. Some bands that fall under Nagoya Kei are lynch, Deathgaze, Deadman etc
Neo-Visual/Soft Visual: The name is rather self-explanatory; bands that have toned down the looked or “reinvented it” from the 90s tend to fall under neo-visual or soft visual. Bands from previous genres could move to this style but it tends to focus on bands forming from 2000-2006. Some bands that were previously stated who moved to this style include Plastic Tree and even X Japan- who many refuse to classify since they were the starters of the movement but could attribute to Kote Kei since it’s the oldest.
Bands that are commonly put under this classification are the GazettE (though their early days could be place in Angura Kei much like Dir en Grey), Glay, Nightmare etc
You probably noticed that subgenres like Oshare Kei, Koteosa, etc were not included. They will be covered on the next Focus On article along with Decora and Fairy Kei.
Tune in December 9 for the Fashion Fraction where I give my recommendations and reviews on specific products- skin/hair care, makeup, and hair styling products.